Franklin County woman accused in Capitol riot faces fines and possible jail time

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ST. LOUIS – Emily Hernandez, of Sullivan, surrendered to federal authorities early Tuesday evening, after allegedly stealing part of a sign from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.   

Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Hernandez last week. This was her initial appearance.

Hernandez, 21, faces five misdemeanor counts for allegedly entering a restricted government building to impede government business (the joint session of Congress to certify electoral votes from the presidential election), disorderly conduct, and stealing government property.  She did not enter a plea.

Hernandez surrendered at FBI headquarters in St. Louis, walking in alongside her attorney, Ethan Corlija.   She said nothing.   Corlija called her “the girl next door.”

Court records say a tipster identified Hernandez as one of the people who had accessed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Authorities say they also found videos placing Hernandez at the scene through her social media accounts. She’s seen holding what remained of a name plate from the Speaker’s office.

Prosecutors say there is reason to believe Hernandez knowingly entered restricted buildings or grounds, engaged in disruptive conduct in the Capitol complex, and stole, sold, conveyed or disposed of things of value, among a list of five possible charges.

Corlija said Hernandez did not threaten or hurt anyone and was not out to overthrow the government or stop the electoral vote certification.

“Absolutely not,” Corlija said.  “We’re not going to discuss any of that…It’s an unfortunate situation.  It’ a situation she did not want to put herself in.  She’s willing to move beyond it.  She’s willing to make it right and get on with the rest of her life.”

The affidavit says the value of the sign is $870.   

Hernandez told the judge she lives with her parents. She was released on an appearance bond: a written promise that she will appear at future court proceedings. Those proceedings will be in the nation’s capital but could shift back to St. Louis if she pleads guilty.  

If convicted, Hernandez faces up to a year in prison plus fines on each count.  

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